Recent reporting from The Guardian reveals that companies are employing corporate intelligence firms to gather information on political groups that have confronted their businesses. Leaked documents obtained by the publication indicate British Airways, the Royal Bank of Scotland and Porsche are among the companies using spies to keep track of their opposition.
The revelations are based on hundreds of pages of leaked documents from two corporate intelligence firms, seen by the Guardian and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, that reveal the inner workings of a normally subterranean industry over several years in the 2000s.
Such use of corporate security firms appears to be widespread and has previously raised concerns among police departments.
[P]olice chiefs have in the past raised a “massive concern” that the activities of the corporate firms are barely regulated and completely uncontrolled. The police have claimed that commercial firms have had more spies embedded in political groups than there were undercover police officers.
A primary tactic used by the intelligence gathering firms is to have spies infiltrate the group, pretending to help organize, and then collect emails and literature, record phone calls, and secure any type of communication possible in order to inform the client of goings-on that might be relevant to its operations.
The targets included the grieving family of Rachel Corrie, a student protester crushed to death by a bulldozer, as well as a range of environmental campaigns, and local campaigners protesting about phone masts.